Measuring emissions from oil and natural gas well pads using the mobile flux plane technique

Environ Sci Technol. 2015 Apr 7;49(7):4742-8. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.5b00099. Epub 2015 Mar 25.


We present a study of methane emissions from oil and gas producing well pad facilities in the Barnett Shale region of Texas, measured using an innovative ground-based mobile flux plane (MFP) measurement system, as part of the Barnett Coordinated Campaign.1 Using only public roads, we measured the emissions from nearly 200 well pads over 2 weeks in October 2013. The population of measured well pads is split into well pads with detectable emissions (N = 115) and those with emissions below the detection limit of the MFP instrument (N = 67). For those well pads with nonzero emissions, the distribution was highly skewed, with a geometric mean of 0.63 kg/h, a geometric standard deviation of 4.2, and an arithmetic mean of 1.72 kg/h. Including the population of nonemitting well pads, we find that the arithmetic mean of the well pads sampled in this study is 1.1 kg/h. This distribution implies that 50% of the emissions is due to the 6.6% highest emitting well pads, and 80% of the emissions is from the 22% highest emitting well pads.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants / analysis*
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods*
  • Methane / analysis*
  • Natural Gas
  • Oil and Gas Fields*
  • Oil and Gas Industry / statistics & numerical data*
  • Texas


  • Air Pollutants
  • Natural Gas
  • Methane